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The grammar of wh-interpretation, scrambling and de re/de dicto distinction

Sang-Hun Yoon

Ph.D. Dissertation, 1997

Abstract

This study investigates the ambiguities of w- phrases in interrogative and declarative contexts in Korean, scrambling with semantic import, and de re/de dicto distinction in opaque contexts. Against Diesing's (1992) strict partition of IP/VP, I argue that the syntactic partition should be extended to CP/IP. Within the Minimalist framework, I propose that the motivation for extending the mapping is given by THEME. Once assigned a THEME, an element becomes a logical subject of a categorical judgment in the sense of Kuroda (1972). W- phrases in Korean such as nwukwu are ambiguous between a wh-question phrase and an indefinite NP interpretation in interrogative contexts. Moreover, they are ambiguous between a quantificational and a nonquantificational interpretation, and between a specific and a nonspecific interpretation. Along with the Split CP Hypothesis, I account for the ambiguity between a wh- question and an indefinite NP interpretation in terms of feature specification of lowerC. Furthermore, I account for the ambiguity between a quantificational and a nonquantificational interpretation, on the one hand, and between a specific and a nonspecific interpretation, on the other hand, in terms of THEME feature checking. I argue that the strength of (+Wh) is not responsible for overt wh- scrambling in Korean. Rather, overt wh-scrambling is driven by a strong THEME feature checking; an overtly scrambled element is understood as nonquantificational or specific. Two points are argued concerning scrambling. One is that there exists semantically unvacuous scrambling. The other is that such scrambling is motivated by a formal-morphological feature THEME checking. Scrambling with A-properties is accounted for in terms of THEME feature checking in (Spec, lowerC) or (Spec, v P), whereas scrambling with A'-properties is accounted for in terms of base generation in an adjunction position. While the de re interpretation of the embedded subject of ECM constructions is readily accounted for, that of the embedded subject of opaque contexts cannot be straightforwardly accounted of in terms of the scope-based theory. I argue that the THEME feature account provides a plausible syntactic account of the de re/de dicto distinction in opaque contexts.


 
 
Department of Linguistics University of Wisconsin-Madison

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